Federal Memorandum Further Streamlines Permitting Process

On April 9, federal agency heads signed the One Federal Decision Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will further implement the administration’s executive order to streamline the federal permitting process for major infrastructure projects.

The MOU calls for greater coordination between federal agencies, establishing permitting timetables under a designated “lead agency” to provide a single environmental impact statement and issue one record of decision with the goal completing the permitting process within two years.

Under the MOU, coordinating federal agencies will conduct their review processes simultaneously rather than the current sequential process that has resulted in unnecessary and costly delays.

The MOU was signed by the heads of the departments of Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy and Homeland Security as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said, “The Department has been vigorously implementing the President’s ‘One Federal Decision’ policy since last August to reduce costs and unnecessary burdens that have long delayed infrastructure projects. It is essential for all federal resource agencies to work together to cut red tape and deliver infrastructure and safety improvements more rapidly and spurring economic growth.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said, “This is another important step toward rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. Major projects can too easily get bogged down in bureaucracy, and these reforms will go right at that logjam. This initiative reflects tools Congress provided in the most recent highway bill to expedite critical projects. Moreover, this builds on our recent action to provide critical funding for improvements to our bridges, highways, railways, and airports. We will continue to work with the administration to advance this priority.”

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said, “Time is money. Reviewing and approving infrastructure projects in the most efficient way possible is critical to our nation’s efforts in building a 21st century infrastructure and keeping project costs from escalating. I am pleased that the administration is exercising the authority provided by Congress to streamline the review process for infrastructure projects. Today’s announcement is a positive step forward in the fight against inefficient, bureaucratic permitting.”

Illinois Quarry Seeks Expansion

McHenry, Ill.-area residents showed up to protest a request from Meyer Material Co. to extend its operations in the city through 2032, according to the Northwest Herald. Residents are worried about noise and pollution from the property.

The South Elgin, Ill.-based sand and gravel operator owns more than 1,000 acres on the north and south sides of Route 120 east of Wonder Lake Road. The city of McHenry annexed 409 acres in 1988, and 117 acres were added in 1998 for the mining business.

Meyer Material’s permit is set to expire this year, but the company wants to continue extractions. McHenry’s Planning and Zoning Commission green-lighted the request in February.

New York Portable Crushing Operation Halted

State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a State Supreme Court shutdown order against Peter J. Battaglia Jr. and affiliated corporations operating an “illegal concrete crushing and demolition processing facility” in Buffalo’s Seneca-Babcock neighborhood, according to the Buffalo News.

According to community residents, the company spread dust, debris and odor throughout Seneca-Babcock for more than a decade. The court order follows a 2016 lawsuit filed by Schneiderman alleging that the company’s actions created a public nuisance under state law, and that it facility illegally operated without the required state environmental permits.

State Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Chimes determined that Battaglia had been operating the facility without a required Solid Waste Facility permit since 2013, and operated a concrete crusher without applying for an air permit.

The court order required that the facility immediately cease all concrete crushing and construction and demolition debris disposal operations. Battaglia also was held personally liable for any penalties that will be determined at an upcoming hearing.

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